How Does Collagen Affect the Body

The human body consists of thousands of different proteins. Proteins in our body are essentially made up of building blocks called amino acids. We have 20 different amino acids present in our body so can you imagine all the different combinations not only between the 20 but as well in length. However, the protein collagen happens to be the most abundant protein in mammals.

Collagen is responsible for many important functions such as providing our skin with structure and strengthening our bones. It is one of the most dominant components of connective tissue which makes up body parts such as tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles. 

The human body creates collagen naturally on it’s own but consuming it in supplemental form or adding collagen through the foods you eat can provide numerous benefits. These benefits most predominantly involve the integumentary, skeletal, and muscular systems. 

Skin Health

  • As your body ages it naturally produces less collagen which can lead to dry skin and wrinkles. Collagen provides elasticity and hydration. 

Increased muscle mass

  • 1- 10% of muscle tissue is composed of collagen. Scientists theorize that collagen helps stimulate the production of the proteins responsible for muscle growth. 

Prevents bone loss

  • One study had women taking either a calcium supplement or a calcium and collagen supplement for 1 year. Those taking both, experienced lower levels of the protein that is responsible for breaking down bones. 

Joint Health

  • Collagen may reduce inflammation in athletes as well as adults experiencing osteoarthritis or joint pain overall. 

Hair and Nails

  • Just like skin, taking collagen can benefit other external features. Collagen may strengthen nails by reducing the brittle breaking, and it may also stimulate your hair to grow longer. 

To be more specific, collagen is composed of many different subsets of collagen. Type I,II, & II. Type I being the most common which makes up about 90% of collagen in the body. Type I is most involved in the external features such as preventing wrinkles in the aging process and hydration. If you are not so much concerned about skin care, type II is a different collagen to test out. It predominantly helps with joint health. Lastly Type III, which is the second most prevalent type of collagen. It is associated with the structure of muscles, organs, and blood vessels. Some researches have thought Type III may promote intestinal health. It is also to note there have not been any human studies done in deciphering whether or not collagen rich foods provide the same benefits as supplements. 


Foods that contain collagen:

As we mentioned earlier, collagen is the most abundant form of proteins in all mammals. Therefore, it is also found in not only the connective tissue of humans but as well as other animals. Thus, foods such as chicken, pork skin, beef and fish are great sources of collagen. Gelatin is a protein substance derived from collagen after it has been cooked, foods that contain gelatin such as bone broth are high sources of collagen. Egg whites are among another source.


Are Tart Cherries For Me?

Tart cherries are sweet, sour and delicious. Sounds like candy to me! Taste isn’t the only reason you might be drawn to snacking on these so called sweet tarts or sipping on the refreshing juice, research shows numerous benefits of tart cherries. Whether you are a periodic gym goer, an avid weightlifter, training for your next marathon, or simply looking out what is best for your health, tart cherry may have some promising health benefits for you. 


Inflammation seems to be the culprit of it all, it may be the most contrary word in terms of a happy body.  Tart cherry has many antioxidant and anti – inflammatory properties, most dominantly in relation to decreasing muscle soreness during and after an exercise. These benefits are shown in both strength and endurance events. 

Often times, when athletes experience soreness and swelling they turn to non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). However, long term usage of these drugs can have many adverse effects such as stomach damage, kidney failure, and increased risk for cardiovascular disease. For those with recurring injuries or soreness, tart cherries may be especially helpful for you as an alternative to aspirin or ibuprofen. 

Even if you are in a healthy state in your training, proper nutrition is always integral for success. The reduction in soreness through the tart cherry may allow for harder, more frequent training sessions to help recover faster, reach goals, and surpass plateaus. 

There have been multiple studies supporting this evidence. One study gave long distance runners either 24 oz of tart cherry or a placebo for each day 7 days prior to a race. The runners receiving the tart cherry had three times less pain not only during but after the race as well in comparison to those receiving the placebo. This same concept was done with 16 oz leading up to a marathon. Those given the tart cherry juice had less muscle damage, soreness, and they also recovered faster. In strength training, a study was done and symptoms of muscle damage after a training was only 4% compared to 22% in those who had tart cherry juice. 


Whether you are struggling to quiet your mind before bed, or you are simply looking for an overall better quality sleep, tart cherry might be just the right addition to your nightly routine. Quality sleep is essential for everybody’s busy lifestyle. For athletes specifically, fatigue is inevitable without adequate sleep. Tart cherries contain the hormone, melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for our sleep- wake cycle as well as reducing symptoms of insomnia. It’s highest at night and while sleeping and decreases sharply in the morning and throughout the day. If you know anything about our sleep cycle, you may have heard of the stage of REM. The more time you spend in REM sleep, the more refreshed and motivated you are likely to be in the morning to tackle your day. 


Not far behind being injured, and maybe more than lack of sleep, there is nothing worse than waking up to a runny nose or sore throat. This may be the difference between you achieving your next PR or lagging behind on your big training cycle. Sickness can be detrimental to an athlete’s optimum performance. Tart cherries provide the means to fight the depression of your immune system. If you could boost your immune system, why not give it a try?!